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Help with PCIe x8 Graphics recommendation

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  • Graphics Cards
  • Graphics
Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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November 3, 2010 12:22:26 PM

G'day all,

I've just installed a SuperMicro H8DME-2 MB, this has only physical PCIe x8 slots. This means PCIe x16 cards will NOT physically fit in these slots!

Can anyone recommend a currently available x8 graphics card for this configuration? Minimum specs are simply 512Mb VRAM, and at least 2 x DVI outs (analogue [VGA] outs are also fine).

PLEASE NOTE: This is NOT a physical PCIe x16 slot with only 8 lanes connected, nor is it an AGP slot. Please don't recommend any cutting, chopping, grinding, gluing, or x16 adapter cards - I'm already using an Orbit x16-x8 adapter with my old Radeon X1600 card, and it's too slow and no longer has active driver development.

I would also be interested in PCI or PCIX graphics, as long as they meet the 512Mb/2xDVI minimum specs.

I've tried to buy Jaton PCI products here in Australia, but that's like buying chooks' teeth, with only one importer and they resell only to distributors - and they haven't sold a Jaton card in nearly a year.

I do realise there's a 5-8% performance advantage to x16 as opposed to x8, but that wasn't enough (before I started seriously looking for an x8 graphics solution, that is :(  ) to offset the 12 CPU cores and 128G supported by the MB... Sigh. :sweat: 

AdvTHANKSance!

Update: Well, as suspected, there are no real answers for a PCIeX8 video card solution. One option is to choose a PCIeX1 video card (still made by many manufacturers), but performance is only slightly better than PCI-based solutions. The only other real alternative is to buy a different motherboard.

Alternative MBs weren't an option in this case, as the MB was selected for the most seamless upgrade from the previous one (Tyan H2000) - so I could carry across my existing specialised PCIX controllers ($5.8k replacement/upgrade cost), CPUs ($1.9k upgrade cost), and RAM, etc. So I saved money one way, but lost it another. :( 

I did get a Radeon X1600XT to work by first using a x16-to-x8 adapter; this worked, but it put the card too high vertically to be able to use it through the rear of the case; so I cut down the card to suit the x8 slot, and this worked (after delicately soldering the x8 card detect pin first!). But neither of those options are a real (practical) solution for anyone without good ESD protection and a very steady hand!

I've since found plenty of physical PCIeX8 controllers, but they tend to be RAID, SCSI, or network controllers. No manufacturer makes an x8 video solution. This is bizarre, as the performance difference between x8 and x16 in video controllers is almost negligible, and it costs a lot more in MB real estate and video card prices! Still, that's the free market for you.

Bottom Line : Be prepared to upgrade your motherboard (if possible), or put up with a x1 video controller, generally with no DirectX capability.

More about : pcie graphics recommendation

a c 1432 U Graphics card
November 3, 2010 10:35:56 PM

PCIe x1 cards is easy to find but not x8. Then of course PCI cards but all being low performance solutions.
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a c 177 U Graphics card
November 3, 2010 11:44:58 PM

Why no cutting? Cut the back of the slot and plug in your 16x GPU. Only way this doesn't work is if you have something right behind the slot.

As far as I know there are only 16x cards, or 1x cards. I've never seen an 8x. You can buy a 1x card and use it in the 8x slot.
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November 4, 2010 2:01:16 AM

Yeah, the bottom x8 slot has some kind of proprietary sub-slot behind it, and I can't risk physically connecting to any of those slot pins. The manual and support site don't mention this in any way, so I'm waiting to hear back from SM about what the heck it's for. Who knows, maybe it's another 4 lanes? ;) 

The top x8 slot sits alone, but filter caps prevent an x16 card physically slotting in even if I remove the "back" retainer/end.

I tried my (previously purchased) HD 4850 card in the x16 adapter, but it won't allow the system to POST without all 16 lanes active. This is the 3rd MB it's failed in (2 previous Tyan MBs also have x16 slots, but only 8 lanes).

Luckily for me, the X1600 runs fine, though slowly, and only with the "legacy mode" (crap!) x64 ATI drivers. So some x16 boards will work in an x8 configuration, but it's really tough to know which will and which won't. Hence my question...

But thanks for looking in!
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November 4, 2010 2:05:18 AM

Oh, and I'm already looking at some x1 graphics adapters - but theoretical throughput is less than using a PCIX-based solution (either 66/100MHz or 64-bit or both).

Performance isn't a huge deal, the system is only rarely used for gaming (Bioshock, Stalker, GTA IV are the most demanding video apps I use), so I guess as long as I get reasonable native Win GUI performance, I can take my medicine wrt the gameplay performance. Sigh.

Looks like I've snookered myself. D'oh!
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a c 177 U Graphics card
November 4, 2010 3:44:39 AM

I think I'd replace the board.
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November 4, 2010 11:25:12 PM

GEEk, if you mean the HD 4850, I've already had to replace it once (one of the regulators went into "smoke possible" mode...). Although, I just assumed it was one of those "high end" cards that demanded x16 support or they wouldn't work.

Any other 4850 owners with dodgy cards care to comment?
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a c 177 U Graphics card
November 5, 2010 12:52:11 AM

Wow, someone knows what my name stands for!

No, I meant replace the new motherboard. 8x only slot? Really? I would have bought one that that has the normal 16x slots.
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a c 1432 U Graphics card
November 5, 2010 12:55:00 AM

+1
LOL
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a c 173 U Graphics card
November 5, 2010 2:15:02 AM

8x slots like that aren't normally meant for graphics cards but mainly high performance raid controllers and nic cards like fiber channel nics ect but you are limited to just 1x or pci-x graphics cards so gaming is out of the question and using it as a graphics or cad station isn't ideal but Supermicro is meant for diy servers but you might get lucky on a server grade workstation board.
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November 6, 2010 3:30:48 AM

Thanks for the suggestions, but I think you know what I'm gonna say... This MB was the "least worst" combination of CPUs (2 x 6-core Opteron), RAM (64G ECC), expansion (2x separate PCI-X buses, each with 2 slots) and PCIe (2x X8 slots).

That let me just "carry across" my RAID controller (64-bit LSI 9550), audio devices (64-bit Lynx Twos) and RAM for a minimal upgrade cost. Now I think it was a bit too minimal!

I'd still like to know why the HD4850 won't start up, that would be an acceptable graphics compromise, specially since the X1600 works fine. Ah well.

Sorry 4745454b, it was quicker to decode and ASCIIfy than write the hex codes (I'm nothing if not creatively lazy :) 
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a c 177 U Graphics card
November 6, 2010 4:20:37 AM

I was going to point out the lack of the capital K, but I figured I'd let it slide. Your only about the second person who didn't have to ask what all that stood for.

Please don't tell me you run all this just for gaming? 2x6core opterons and and 64GBs of ECC ram isn't a gaming setup. I'm also not sure why your trying to game on something that is obviously a server rig. Perhaps a second box?
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November 6, 2010 10:05:39 PM

4745454b said:
I was going to point out the lack of the capital K, but I figured I'd let it slide. Your only about the second person who didn't have to ask what all that stood for.

That's actually strange - I figured the capital K, but I think the lowercase 'b' in the string tricked me psychologically... I was gonna mention using a lowercase spelling, but I thought I'd let it slide :D 

Please don't tell me you run all this just for gaming? 2x6core opterons and and 64GBs of ECC ram isn't a gaming setup. I'm also not sure why your trying to game on something that is obviously a server rig. Perhaps a second box? said:
Please don't tell me you run all this just for gaming? 2x6core opterons and and 64GBs of ECC ram isn't a gaming setup. I'm also not sure why your trying to game on something that is obviously a server rig. Perhaps a second box?

OK, I won't tell you it's for gaming. :sol: 

I restore and recover audio and video recordings, and that's the main reason for the specs of this machine. It doesn't have to be blindingly fast, but it does have to have seriously unconstrained throughput. Bandwidth is everything - if I'm shuttling through a high-res (192k/24bit) audio file (typically 10+GB) searching for a particular voice (which has to be done in real-time spectral mode), that takes a huge amount of data from the disk system (20+MB/s sustained, which is why I have dedicated swap and temp drives!) and a massive amount of parallel processing to do all the Fourier maths in real time.

The fact that it also works as a fairly decent gaming machine was a pure bonus, not the main reason for the system in the first place... At least, that's what I told my accountant, anyway :sol: 

That's why I'm happy with a PCIe x1 Quadra-based video processor (which is what I'm waiting for now) - it won't have a huge FPS rate in DX mode, but the native GUI will be more than quick enough to deal with multiple displays and lots of spectral data painting in real time. If I can still fire up Portal or CS:S at beer o'clock on Fridays, I'll be a happy vegetable. :pt1cable: 
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November 9, 2010 2:51:04 PM

PC Pete -
Have you had any luck finding a graphics card?
I am having a similar problem, and stumbled on this forum while searching for a solution.

We have a SR2600URLXR Intel Server with 5 PCIe x8 Gen 2.x expansion slots, and it only have VGA output, and we'd like to have a graphics card with DVI output. None of the graphics cards we've scrounged up will fit the PCI slots in this motherboard.
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November 9, 2010 8:34:14 PM

smclean said:
We might give this Matrox card a try:
Matrox G55-MDDE32LPD
http://www.matrox.com/graphics/en/products/graphics_car...

It is PCIe x1, "compatible with all compliant PCIe slots (x1, x4, x8, x16)"


I guess it depends on what you need the card to do... The only problem with the G-series cards is that they only have 32MB VRAM, which can be limiting in terms of resolution and colour depth. That may not be an issue with a dedicated server and it's probably better than the onboard video on the Intel board!

If you need more flexibility in terms of resolution, etc, and you want to stick with Matrox, have a look at the M-series. They have one PCIe-x1 card in that family (M9120+) http://www.matrox.com/graphics/en/products/graphics_cards/m_series/m9120pluslpx1/

I ended up getting an NVidia Quadro NVS-420, since it's got 512M, plus options for another 2 displays (I already use 2), and might just possibly allow use with DX "applications" (games :D  ) It should arrive today, so once I've had a chance to install it and have a fiddle, I'll post an update if that would be helpful.
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November 16, 2010 8:25:16 PM

I can report that the Quadro card has no ability to perform any directx or gl graphic functions outside the native windows environment whatsoever. There is a DX driver stub supplied, but it doesn't even identify the graphics engine correctly to any applications, so that's a bit of a write-off. Not surprised, but still a bit disappointed.
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a c 173 U Graphics card
November 16, 2010 8:36:29 PM

Well what can I say, life is like that when you have it all planed out then you get a curve ball now you have a few options but it is beast to build a cheap rig on the side even it is old for occasional tasks while the workstation is or isn't in use when you want to enjoy playing a game. It is what I do plus it has saved my rear a few times when having to do maintenance or suffered a failure. A professional would know to have more than just one machine on hand.
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November 18, 2010 11:49:02 PM

nforce4max said:
Well what can I say, life is like that when you have it all planed out then you get a curve ball now you have a few options but it is beast to build a cheap rig on the side even it is old for occasional tasks while the workstation is or isn't in use when you want to enjoy playing a game. It is what I do plus it has saved my rear a few times when having to do maintenance or suffered a failure. A professional would know to have more than just one machine on hand.


Yeah, I spent a lot of time balancing the business needs with the after-hours requirements. Since this is a 24x7 high-availability system, it was worth doing the legwork. But I think I got lucky with all the bits anyway. I do realise it wasn't the best solution for either requirement, but it turned out to be a great compromise while the technology permitted (2005-2009).

The solution is going to have to be a dedicated game machine. Unfortunately, this has to be quiet (it's in a studio, the rest of the systems are fully watercooled to minimise noise and dust), and cheap (because I can't afford the kind of machine I'd really like just yet!). Then again, I still have a working PS2...

Thanks to everyone for taking the time for your suggestions and ideas. I appreciate the support!
-PCPete
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November 18, 2010 11:49:53 PM

Best answer selected by PC Pete.
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a c 169 U Graphics card
November 19, 2010 8:11:57 AM

This topic has been closed by Maziar
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